International Women’s Day, which is celebrated around the world on March 8, has become an important part of Russian culture. The history and significance of the holiday in an interview with Izvestia was revealed by a culturologist, deputy head for scientific work and international affairs, associate professor of the department of foreign languages and intercultural communication of the faculty of international economic relations of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation Nina Kozlovtseva.
“Considering the history of the March 8 holiday, it is extremely interesting how this holiday organically fit into Russian society, reflecting the values of Russian culture. And this despite the fact that the original meaning of the holiday was exactly the opposite of its modern understanding. The holiday traces its history back to the women’s protest march in New York in 1908, who advocated gender equality and equal rights and working conditions with men. The march was organized by Maud Malone, president of the Harlem Equality League and founder of the Union of Progressive Women. Interestingly, many men who shared the views of the protesters participated in that march, ”the expert noted.
A year later, the Socialist Party of America organized mass rallies and proclaimed National Women’s Day, choosing the last Sunday in February as the day of celebration (the first march took place on February 16).
As the culturologist clarified, in Russia the struggle for women’s equality began later, in 1913. Then, on March 2, a “scientific morning on women’s issues” was held in St. Petersburg, where they discussed the equality of women and men, the protection of motherhood. But the direct introduction of Women’s Day was influenced by the strike on February 23, 1917, or March 8 according to the Gregorian calendar (according to the new style), which resulted in the fall of the monarchy.
“In the USSR, the celebration of March 8 turned from a protest against inequality into a glorification of the ideal of the Soviet woman – a mother, a hard worker, a communist. Here, a specific image can be traced, reflecting just the successful combination of a woman’s work activity and the role of a mother and mistress of the hearth, ”said Kozlovtseva.
She explained that March 8 has been a day off since 1965. This was the result of the World Women’s Congress being held in Moscow shortly before. At the same time, this day became an international holiday established by the United Nations (UN) only in 1975. It is noteworthy that in modern Russia, March 8 has long lost its significance as a struggle for women’s rights, while the holiday established by the UN still retains it.
According to statistics, less than 10% of Russians associate this holiday with the struggle for women’s rights. The majority of the population of Russia consider it the day of spring, female beauty, an occasion to say words of love and gratitude to mothers and wives, the culturologist noted.
“In itself, giving gifts specifically for women is a traditional ritual of the holiday, the main of which are flowers and sweets. Also traditional are purely feminine gifts, such as perfumes, accessories, cosmetics, household appliances and various cooking utensils. All of them emphasize the archetypal role of a woman, accepted in Russian culture,” Kozlovtseva summed up.
On March 3, expert Anton Afanasiev shared with Izvestia the ideas for the best budget gifts on the occasion of International Women’s Day. So, he recommended preparing a romantic dinner for his beloved women, as well as making a memorable gift with his own hands.
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